Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

War On Drugs

America get over yourself.

"Murderers, directly or indirectly, and generally unsavory characters."

If you sell someone drugs and they DON'T die, are you a murderer?
Permalink  
January 4th, 2006
I did a search, and MarkTAW's complete paragraph is:

"As for the drug dealers, I've known a few and they're not people you want hanging around your house. Murderers, directly or indirectly, and generally unsavory characters. Fun at parties, but completely amoral."

Dunno what to say. The end result of competition is generally murder (and beyond). If laws prohibiting murder weren't enforced, wouldn't you think there would've been assassinations between Microsoft and Google/Sun/Apple? These are industrial powers under intense competition; and if there are arenas in which some won't compete, someone harder eventually will. And gain from it.

But currently within the US, such blatant killings would simply destroy the company which carried it out. Just like in a competitive sport like basketball, you can maybe get away with steroids or blatant fouls, but murder? No way. Even skaters don't really get away with bashing each others' knees.

The problem with drugs is it's a lucrative market. Which already operates outside the law. Nice guys finish last; garbage floats. In that situation, certain kinds of violence will eventually occur.

Now, I haven't described any "solutions" to the "war on drugs." That's a different subject, which requires knowledge of what the REAL health and psychological effects of the particular drugs are.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 4th, 2006
Just like to say Americans are stupid.

They should learn from the British. Sell Opium to China and win Hong Kong!
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 4th, 2006
Rick, you might be interested in a US Army War College study on China's strategic thinking. I believe this was it:
http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=378

I don't know how glib it is; perhaps knowledgeable people might like to chime in.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 4th, 2006
"If you sell someone drugs and they DON'T die, are you a murderer?"

No, but if you sell someone enough drugs to kill themselves, when they're obviously distraught and alone, then what are you?

And if you *actually* kill someone (with a gun) then what are you?
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 4th, 2006
If you're a barman and you sell a drunk a drink and they die are you also culpable?
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 4th, 2006
Even better Rick - then send someone to China to negotiate the return of Hong Kong and then work out whether to court martial him for leasing the New Territories instead...
Permalink a cynic writes... 
January 4th, 2006
Are you attempting to offer a socially acceptable reductio ad absurdum? "If you sell someone asprin and they OD on it are you culpable?" "Are we responsible XYZ economic situation/war/whatever because we buy gas/foreign products/etc.?"

There is definitely some sort of pressure to do the socially acceptable thing, and some justification "well, they'll just get it from someone else" in all of these situations. There is a point where the action becomes so mundane, and the consequence so far removed or so "out of your hands" that it's really difficult to argue culpability.

Did the bartender know that this drink would kill the alcoholic? I don't think the law would punish him (assuming this is what you meant by culpability), but if it happened once, I'd hope he'd adjust his behaviour to prevent it in the future. If the bartender had a history of getting people so drunk that they died, I'd say there was something wrong.

<Godwin's law>
The inevitible consequence of all these discussions is "Were the NAZI's culpable because they were 'just following orders?'"
</Godwin's law>

or "Are the poor responsible for their situation, or should we expect them to bootstrap themselves and go through the grueling work to bring themselves out of poverty?"

Isn't the answer to all these questions always "both/neither." These are ambiguities, and you're free to draw the line wherever you wish.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 4th, 2006
I don't see how it's reductio ad absurdium -- probably more people die as a direct or indirect result of alcohol than die from "drug abuse", yet just because the alcohol is socially acceptable the bartender isn't guilty but the drug dealer is?

Sure, if drugs were 100% guaranteed to kill you every time, then the dealer would be guilty, but they don't. You've also got the issue that the person buying them is doing so willingly (even if it is to feed their addiction) with advance knowledge of the risks involved.

In other words: Mark, don't be such an ass...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 4th, 2006
> Sure, if drugs were 100% guaranteed to kill you every time

What if they were 95% gauranteed to kill you *this* time, you knew that when you sold the person the drugs, and you were reasonably sure that their intent was to kill themselves?

This isn't a hypothetical, this is a real situation involving two people I know. Thanks to a well timed trip to the emergency room, they're both still alive, but since you like playing the odds game, let's say the odds were 95% that the person would die that night.

Where do *you* draw the line?

I'm not saying drug dealears are murders because a few people happen to die when using their product, I'm saying they're murders because there are times when they know their actions, with reasonable certainty, will lead to someone's death, and not just down the line, but within a matter of hours.

Maybe not all drug dealers, maybe some would refuse or sit down and talk with the person, I'm sure your friends are peachy keen, but within the context of the previous thread, this is the kind of knowledge I wanted the OP to have.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 4th, 2006
> In other words: Mark, don't be such an ass...

PS - Fuck off. I have friends who are dead, friends who have had seizures and spent 2 days lying on the floor before someone found them and now operate at the level of an 8 year old. You keep telling yourself whatever you want, but don't tell me I'm an ass.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 4th, 2006
Oh, and the other drug dealer I know is a murderer, actually shot someone and killed them.

Sure it's a small sample, but it's what I have to work with.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 4th, 2006
I'm calling you an ass because I think in this instance you're over-reacting. When anyone buys narcotics, they are doing so freely and of their own volition, so at the very worst they're committing accidental suicide.

Drug dealers, like anyone involved in selling things to the public, is in it for the money. They know that sure, some people might die, but car dealers, bartenders, gun salesmen, pharmacists and so on know the same thing. (Some of them have the added problem that what they sell may not kill the individual to whom they sold them, but to some third party who took no part in the transaction, which is even more worrisome. But still they sell them.)

And no matter how much you find the "well if *I* didn't sell it to them, someone else whould" argument distasteful, the fact is that it's the actual honest-to-god truth, so putting your fingers in your ears and going "la la la, I can't hear you" is a poor strategy.

Finally, these friends of yours who ended up at casualty. Were they coerced to buy the drugs? Were they under any kind of duress to buy them? Or did they buy them knowing full well the risks involved? And guess whose fault *that* makes it... Try to shift the blame all you want, but at the end of the day your friends didn't *have* to buy any drugs.

Oh, and I know an accountant who's a bona fide murderer, so by your reasoning all accountants are murderers. I know it's a small sample, but it's all I have to work with...

(FYI, in my time I've dealt with many drug dealers, and they were all "normal" people, and yes they'd be quite happy to sit down and discuss the effects of whatever you're buying. It's very rare that anyone buys drugs from a dodgy bloke hiding down an alley, and if you *do* buy them from someone like that then you're an idiot.)
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 4th, 2006
Hmm, how does England (or other countries) deal with drugs differently than the US? I get the impression that some societies are better set up to manage these problems.

Take the US auto industry; Nader had to kick some major ass before they sold somewhat safer cars, even though the industry privately knew how dangerous they were, as they pushed dependence on cars.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 4th, 2006
We supply free needles, methadone for heroin addicts, and are trying to get away from the "treat everyone involved in drugs as a hardened criminal" -- for simple posession these days you're more likely to get off with a caution and possibly sent to a clinic rather than just being tossed in jail to rot.

On the whole we're just much more relaxed about drugs, probably due to greater exposure to them -- when I was at uni in the US I met *no-one* who even so much as smoked pot, but at a uni in the UK you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who didn't partake now and again. This means that most adults in the UK have actual experience of the whole drugs thing, and are therefore less inclined to get sucked in to the whole "DRUGS ARE EVIL! KILL THE PUSHERS!" ranting that seems so popular amongst the moral minority...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 4th, 2006
"Murderers, directly or indirectly, and generally unsavory characters."

Hey maybe in Britain a drug dealer is like your local barkeep, always a smile and a grin, but almost every murder in our inner cities are a result of the drug trade. Even if we made drugs legal, I believe they would find something else to deal in illicitly. I don't buy into the argument that they are murderers because they sell drugs (ie someone overdoses), but there are thousands of murders every year in the US that are directly related to drugs. 8 out of 10 crimes in Baltimore are drug related.  Not to mention all the murders further up the pike from the smugglers on the Mexican border, and the cartels in the carribean and south america. I know many will say the solution is legalization, but I'm not sure we could ever in good conscience sell some of the drugs out there at your local drug store.
Permalink Phil 
January 4th, 2006
"Hey maybe in Britain a drug dealer is like your local barkeep, always a smile and a grin"

He's most likely a friend or friend-of-a-friend.

"...almost every murder in our inner cities are a result of the drug trade..."

We don't get many murders -- 2003-2004 had around 800 -- so perhaps your problem is guns rather than drugs? The only trouble with that is that guns are constitutionally protected and loved by the right-wingers, and drugs aren't.

(Partial troll. :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 4th, 2006
You're more likely to get beaten up, knifed or glassed in Britain if you're in a situation than gunned down but there are cities where guns are becoming more common, Liverpool, Birmingham areas of London.

Happily out here in the wilds they haven't graduated much beyond fists and motorcycle chains. I'm unlikely to be in any such situation these days (well these past 25 years or so really).
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 4th, 2006
"so perhaps your problem is guns rather than drugs? "

Yes Mat, because i'm sure if a rival drug dealer didn't have a gun he'd just say "fuck it" and go play playstation. In the absence of guns there are many other weapons that will work quite nicely.
Permalink Phil 
January 4th, 2006
The UK isn't quite the happy hunting ground of the voluntarily stoned. There are turf wars and occasionally civilians get in the way of the, somtimes literal, crossfire. Dealers aren't just friends or friends of friends they're often extremely nasty individuals that will attempt to turn an occasional E user onto some vile addictive concoction.

But the fundamental reasons for that are that it is illegal. That doesn't mean everything becomes heavenly if it was all decriminalised. Yardies would revert to extortion and protection rackets which in some ways are harder to police.

The drug laws, and more importantly the Asset seizing powers, are very significant in policing, not so much about picking up users but in identifying and nailing organised crime.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 4th, 2006
Mat

I never claimed that the person taking drugs was completely innocent, so I'm not sure why you're arguing against that.

I also never said it was "accidental" suicide, I said it was an intentional suicide, which the drug dealer knew about.

I agree that drug dealers are businessmen, and quite capable of sitting down and discussing the pros and cons of the products they sell. As businessmen & enturepenuers, they're likely quite intelligent and "street smart" as well.

I'm the one who brought up the "if they didn't buy it from me, they'll buy it from someone else" argument, so I'm not sure how you can accuse me of going "la la la I can't hear you."

I also never said drug dealers aren't "normal people." They hang out, play video games, watch movies, and shop in supermarkets like anyone else. Nor did I say these are "dodgy blokes hiding down an alley." These are people I grew up with, friends of friends, etc. You would never know just from hanging out with them the kinds of things they do when you're not around.

Just because your friends of friends are nice to you doesn't mean they won't turn around and screw over someone else. How do you know? Maybe you're the kind of white collar coke head who needs a nice soft sell and to be told that there really is no downside to the whole industry.

What I am saying is that if you were to ask a random cross section of the population "I want to kill myself, would you sell me a gun?" drug dealers are more likely to say "yes" than the vast majority. They're also more likely to actually pull the trigger.

I'm sure your friends-of-friends are peachy keen and would say "no," but we're - to keep things in context - talking about a random drug dealer who the OP doesn't know, and a girlfriend who's lying about her drug use.

Your "dodgy blokes" scenario implies that you admit there is some percentage of drug dealers who don't care who dies taking their product, and would be more than willing to go as far as intentionally selling something deadly.

So the question is - how do you know which kind this guy is?
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 4th, 2006
"I never claimed that the person taking drugs was completely innocent, so I'm not sure why you're arguing against that."

Not explicitly, no, but you *did* say the dealer was guilty of murder, which would suggest you're blaming them rather than the "victim".

From your statement "I've known a few and they're not people you want hanging around your house. Murderers, directly or indirectly, and generally unsavory characters" I got the impression that you're saying drug dealers are unsavoury murderers. If that's not what you meant to say, then you shouldn't have said it...

"I'm not sure how you can accuse me of going "la la la I can't hear you.""

Because you compared the "they'll get it from somewhere" argument to reductio ad absurdium arguments that can be used to excuse any action?

"I also never said drug dealers aren't "normal people.""

No, you just said they were unsavoury murderers.

"What I am saying is that if you were to ask a random cross section of the population "I want to kill myself, would you sell me a gun?" drug dealers are more likely to say "yes" than the vast majority."

I doubt very much anyone who buys drugs from dealers say they want to kill themselves with it, and I imagine if they did they dealer *wouldn't* sell them any in order to avoid precisely the kind of accusations you're levelling.

"...talking about a random drug dealer who the OP doesn't know..."

...and so you assume he's the "bad" kind?

"...and a girlfriend who's lying about her drug use."

And that's the drug-dealer's fault how?

"...and would be more than willing to go as far as intentionally selling something deadly."

I don't think even the most idiotic of drug dealers (at least the ones who have a set of "regulars" -- the "random guy lurking in an alley" variety may well not care as it's unlikely many of his customers will buy anything from him regularly) is going to intentionally kill their customers. One, a dead customer isn't very profitable, and two, the live customers may be less inclined to remain customers if they know the dealer has been deliberately killing other customers.

"So the question is - how do you know which kind this guy is?"

I'm just playing the odds. Of the 80 or so dealers I've dealt with in the past only one or two have been unsavoury, so I'm more likely to assume that a dealer (especially one who sells coke to the white-collar crowd) is of the "seemingly upstanding member of the community" unless it's explicitly stated otherwise.

(This may be another cultural divide thing; because recreational drug use is so common in the UK we may have a completely different way of doing it -- certainly the US media gives the impression that drug-purchasing is an altogether seedier proposition.)
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 4th, 2006
There's a very simple economic stimulus for not killing your clientele.
A living addict will come back to you for more every so often, where as a dead one won't.
Bloody simple, no point in killing your customers, might as well talk to them, so they can get their shit together and come back for more drugs maybe in a few weeks when the'yre feeling better.
Permalink John Q Tester 
January 4th, 2006
I only know about these incidents because of extraordinarily close relationships with some of the people involved and/or a trust relationship between them & someone who also trusts me.

These aren't things you would hear about in casual conversation, or even if you were fairly decent friends with these people.

Out of the 80 people you've dealt with in the past decade or so, how can you possibly know so much about them?

I'm not asking you to totally acquiesce, just meet me somewhere in the middle. I'm not saying all drug dealers are assholes, all I'm saying is not all drug dealers are fine, upstanding gentlemen.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 4th, 2006
Whether drugs are good or bad, the "War on Drugs" is not working.

People are always going to seek out mind altering substances. Outlawing consumption only drives usage underground.

Making drugs illegal also creates a huge opportunity for smugglers and drug cartels, which leads to violence.

Prosecuting users is wasteful and expensive, especially where casual marijuana use is concerned. Trying to stop smuggling is nearly impossible.

I don't have a solution to this problem, but the current system ain't working.
Permalink Dana 
January 4th, 2006
I make no claim they *are* all fine, upstanding individuals. I just think that your claim that *most* of them aren't is bogus.

How can I know so much about these 80 people? Given that they're people I've dealt with on and off over the course of the last 15+ years, and given that at least 25% of them I class as close friends (most of them having become friends during this period rather than them starting out as friends who subsequently sold me drugs), and the remaining 75% range from "would stop and talk to in the street" to "would invite to my wedding" I can say with reasonable certainty that I know them well enough to make a reasonable judgement as to their basic moral fibre.

Some of them have had close calls with clientele ODing on the premises, and they've acted in a professional manner, administering first aid, taking them to hospital, checking up on them afterwards, etc. On the other hand a couple of them I wouldn't trust to pee on me if I were on fire, but that's true of humanity as a whole -- there are good people and there are bad people, but what they do for a living shouldn't be taken as an absolute signifier as to which category they fall in.

Even though things like "hitman", "hired goon", and so forth would probably indicate that the holder of that position has little respect for human life, even then there's a good chance that they're actually nice people, it's just that they're paid to cause pain and suffering to particular individuals. That doesn't mean they won't help old ladies across the street, rescue kittens from trees, give to charity, etc.

Anyway, this is a pointless argument -- I think the majority of drug dealers are generally nice people, but your personal experience is otherwise; as your contact with dealers is limited and indirect I choose to more or less ignore it and go by my own greater experience, and that's the end of that.
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 4th, 2006
"That doesn't mean they won't help old ladies across the street, rescue kittens from trees, give to charity, etc."

What are you arguing? Did I ever say that they couldn't help little old ladies across the street?

Actually, I knew a hit man. Nice guy, he was always playing with his kid, etc. I never thought that his business dealings affected whether or not he was a nice guy. If he showed up at my wedding as someone's +1, I wouldn't think twice about it.

I've also known some people whose families (fathers, brothers) were killed because they were in the mob, one whose father was rather famous and a Google search for her name turns up a couple of articles as well.

All of these people were nice, regular people, except at times their business led them to extreme circumstances. Something they hid from their friends, their families, etc.

I've also known pot dealers and guys who followed around the Grateful Dead supporting themselves by making LSD.

"as your contact with dealers is limited and indirect I choose to more or less ignore it and go by my own greater experience, and that's the end of that."

I'm getting a pretty clear picture here of your life, and the people you're dealing with really could be just different than the people I'm talking about, but I'm still not sure you'd know if it were different. I think part of the problem is confusing different classes of drug dealers. There's your typical hippy pot dealer on the one hand, and at the other extreme is crack/heroin dealers whose clients include prostitutes and people who will do anything to get their next fix.

The people who start selling because they're users and figure they might as well catch some of the revenue that's going by from all their friends to the dealers and in the case of pot heads, because they can grow it in their basement and as long as they're making it for themselves, why not for others too, and the people who see it as an easy way to make money and are willing to go a little further.

Perhaps you're talking about mostly the former, or people you percieve to be mostly the former, and maybe I'm talking about mostly the latter, or people I percieve as being mostly the later.

Also, let's say my two examples are extreme, what I want to know is "how extreme." You're saying that they're rare in that only 2/80 of the people you've dealt with would ever be in this situation - 2.5% of your friends-of-friends and back alley drug dealers.

What I'm saying is that these are situations every dealer may have to face at some point in their career, with the possible exception of the true hippy pot head who grows in his basement and only sells to friends. It's interesting that your friends have faced life-or-death situations and what concerns you is how professionally they handled the situation. Occuaptional hazard, I know, these are genuinely nice people.

Which brings me to another point. How much money are these guys making from casual users like you? I really don't know the economics of it, but would they turn down someone who started calling them more and more frequently?

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1222814,00.html

This article had some intersting things to say about "the belief among young people that cocaine is 'safe'" and "People who use drugs after a hard week at work (who) don't consider themselves addicts."

PS - do you actually call them "Footballers"?
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 4th, 2006
"Oh, and the other drug dealer I know is a murderer, actually shot someone and killed them."


Damn! What happened at trial?
Permalink Kasey 
January 4th, 2006
If a person doesn't own their own body, they own nothing.

Meth, crack etc can leave people messed up. But people are supposed to be allowed to be messed up - it comes with being human.

Sure it's a tragedy when someone dies, but its worse to interfere.
Permalink flash91 
January 4th, 2006
I dunno, most reformed addicts tend to put down their reform to benign interference.
Permalink Colm O'Connor 
January 4th, 2006
>>most reformed addicts tend to put down their reform to benign interference.
I do. I admit it.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 4th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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